The Project
Tracking with a Click
Tricks of the trade
Advice from the pros
Getting Great sounds
Home Recording
Home Vocal Session
The Session

       Advice from the Professionals      

Cl;ick here to go to the introduction!

Click here to find out about the studio building!

Click here to go to the studio business chapter!

Click here to go to the chapter on studio types!

Click here to go to the chapter on people!

Click here to go to the index!

Click here to find out about types of equipment!

Click here to go to the project chapter!

Click here to go to all the links and downloads!

Advice from the Pros:

Change your strings. Have your vision, but be open to letting things turn out the way they turn out.  Be open to other people's comments.  And wash your hands if you eat greasy food. It's hard to finger that kick ass guitar solo if you have pizza grease all over the fretboard.
Barbara Manning, Producer

Practice, practice, practice.  If you are not rehearsed and organized before you enter the recording studio, you will run into trouble.  And you will run out of money before you can fix it! You want to be mentally prepared and physically prepared.  On the mentally prepared part, you want to practice your songs as well as you can, so you can play them in as few takes as possible. And physically, obviously, don't forget to bring your amps and guitars.  A lot of people actually assume that a studio's just going to have everything, but it won't. So everything you want to use, you have to bring.
If you are going to sing, it's best to drink something that is not too cold and not too sugary--both will tighten up your vocal chords. For a long time I drank Classic Coke, as it was known back then. I t's not really very good--I wouldn't recommend it. Whiskey is actually pretty good.  When we did the Air Miami record, we drank Jagermeister. Soothes your throat.  I'd recommend Jagermeister, its more like candy, as opposed to whiskey, which is like something you want to gag on.
Bring supplies to the studio: instruments, cables, strings, guitar picks, lyric sheets, drum sticks, duct tape, cigarettes and the rest of your band paraphernalia.  But don't overlook the snack factor. You should be prepared for long hours of hard work in the studio, and that means you will probably get hungry.  You have to budget for snacks as well. Munchies--like goldfish, pretzels, combos, peanuts--are always popular.  You can also bring something more substantial to make in the studio, like bagels and cream cheese.
For some people, it's embarrassing to hear themselves -- especially in a recording that picks everything up.  Don't be freaked out by that.  You should ask your fellow band members if they want you to leave the room while they are performing solo, such as during a vocal overdub.  Some people get very self-conscious and it is better to leave them with the engineer to do their thing.  Some people really won't want you there when they're belting out their soul, as I know from personal experience.
Mark Robinson, Producer

Take as much care as you can over the recording.  Too many musicians take a sloppy attitude to rehearsing and recording. When we go into the studio, only perfect will do, which is one of the reasons our records still sell years after we made them.
Dave Gilmour, guitar player and producer.

Tuning problems can be some of the biggest frustrations in the studio. Buy a tuner and make sure everyone who plays an instrument in the band knows how to use it.  This saves a lot of grief when the guitarist goes to do overdubs the next day and his guitar is out of tune.
You should plan to give yourself enough time to do the job right. As a rule of thumb, less is best.  If you're going for high quality recording, you should attempt fewer songs than you think you can finish in your allotted time.  If you just want to bash out your 16 song live set, that doesn't leave much time in your budget for more careful and complicated overdubs, so you'll get a more raw product at the end.  It could take a whole day to get a song really nice, or you could do 18 songs in one day.  So think about that.  Doing a lot of songs isn't necessarily bad if it's what you are prepared to do.  Many bands lay down the basic tracks live, with drums, bass and guitar playing together.  This creates a good energetic recording and also saves time!  Make sure to allow an equal amount of time to mix your songs as you allow to record them.  Even the best performance will sound terrible if you don't take the time to mix it properly.
Don't assume the engineer is going to make you sound the way you want.  Take an active role in talking about what kinds of things excite you when you hear them.  Otherwise you'll get the generic.
The studio is about getting a good sound on tape.  This is very different than a live performance, where acts of extremism, such as jumping around or smashing your guitar, communicate an emotional reaction to the audience.  In the studio, those things may not result in the best sound.  So concentrate on playing well.  Power comes from subtlety and finesse rather than from more loud guitars.  Power is in quality tone rather than quantity of guitar tracks.  Power is from careful planning, not just loud things.  In other words, thumping that bass note extra loud doesn't help you in the studio -- you're just going to have to re-record it.
Don't get reactionary.  What worked well in the demo may not now.   Listen as you go.  Don't expect it to go as planned -- change your plan as you go.  Respond to what you're hearing rather than what you think you want to hear.
Rob Christiansen, engineer.

The band usually lays down the basic tracks -- guitar, bass, drums -- first thing in the studio.  Often the singer will add her part later.  The band should practice the song without vocals so you can play it without the vocal cues.  You should spend a lot of time with your instrument and amp before the clock starts ticking in the studio.  Make sure you can get the sounds you want out of it and set it up.  You should try to play with your band and change the settings, too.  You get different sounds when everyone is there than when it's just you in the room.  Always schedule extra time -- more than you think you'll need, 'cause you'll need it.  Each song is going to take at least three hours. Even if it doesn't, that is probably a good bet.
Ask the engineer questions about what he's doing so you can communicate what you want.  Don't be afraid to assert yourself.  If you want something done, you have to make it happen.  Don't step on toes, but at the same time, it is your record, not the engineer's record.  You or the producer really have to assert your ideas, but the engineer is the person who is actually going to make it happen.  A good cooperative way to mix your songs is to let the engineer set up a rough mix that he thinks sounds good, and then let everyone comment on that.
Phil Satlof, bass player and producer

Editing and sequencing are hard to explain, because if the job's done right, you won't notice it's there.  There are a million tricks to be done during the editing and sequencing process.  Some require forethought during the original mixdown.  For instance, if you want to have songs crossfade into one another, it is best not to fade them down during the mix.  Have someone explain the possibilities of this digital technology before you enter the studio.
Robert Salsbury, ProTools editor

I never sung that line. They've totally retuned me.  Fookin' technology!
Ozzy Osbourn, singer.


The Byre Recording Studio